Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Frozen - Early Thoughts



I went to see the latest Disney movie so now let’s talk about it.  Full spoilers are under the cut as always.

First off I have to rave about the short subject that aired before the feature Get a Horse.  Man that thing rocked.  What a wonderful combination of old and new.  There is old rubber hose animation with some modern gags and angles.  It used the original voice work of Walt Disney and Billy Bletcher, apparently to honour Mickey’s 85th birthday.  It had Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar, the old black and white 30’s opening, as well as the music.  It used the great 3D designs from Epic Mickey and the old Pete verses Mickey antagonism and…and it totally blew me away.  This right here this how you do homage right.  It’s a perfect blend of old and new with great respect for its Disney roots while still moving forward with modern technology.  Why can’t every Disney production be like this?!

Now that is not to say that film itself wasn’t good I enjoyed it very much and it too poked fun at some of the old Disney tropes and threw in a few twists.  It plays with the whole love at first sight thing with Anna and Hans and I like that Hans is revealed to be a villain in the end who was using Anna’s loneliness and naivety to his advantage.  This doesn’t make Anna come off as stupid for believing him though because her naivety and desire for companionship is explained in the backstory.  Both she and Elsa have been shut away from the world and that has shaped their personalities accordingly.  Elsa on the flip side is serious and closed off because she has all this responsibility to control her powers, and ironically she is so scared of losing control of her powers that that’s the very reason she can’t control them.  Hans also has a legitimate reason for wanting to be noticed.  As thirteenth in line his isn’t getting the throne and marrying into someone else’s kingdom to establish yourself as distinct from your family is a fine move.  It’s his cold-hearted actions that push him into the villain role.  Kristoff is nice fun guy and I like that he is knowledgeable about mountain climbing.  Olaf wasn’t nearly as annoying as I thought he would be and was even funny at points along with being heartwarming.  The Duke of Weselton was fun when he was dancing at the ball with Anna, but I don’t think he needed to really be a villain alongside Hans.  The confrontation with Elsa could have been done just as well if not more so if it was mob mentally going up against the supposed monster who cursed Arendelle.  Kind of like how the villagers go up against the beast in Beauty and the Beast.

The film has other problems as well.  While I enjoyed a lot of the songs including ‘Vuelie’ the opening chant that reminded me a lot of The Lion King, as well as ‘Do You Want to Build a Snowman’, ‘For the First Time in Forever’, expect for the chocolate and gassy lines, and ‘Let It Go’ was my personal favourite.  Still I think the film suffers from almost too much music.  Like when Anna confronts Elsa in her ice castle I don’t think the reprise of ‘For the First in Forever’ needed to be there I think plain dialogue would have been better.  Also ‘Fixer Upper’ annoyed me and so did ‘Love is an Open Door’.  I know that latter song is supposed to be cheesy and over the top, but for me it was a little too much so.  Also while I like that they made fun of the whole true love in a day thing with Hans and Anna and had Anna not only save Elsa, but also herself with her act of true love for her sister, I hate that they then went the true love with Anna and Kristoff.  The two people who’ve known each other a whole day and a half!  Sure they aren’t getting married, but that kiss at the end still bugs me.  If they had kept it more subtle like them just smiling and maybe holding hands I think I would have liked it more.

Moving on, while the backgrounds and special effects animation is gorgeous here the character design does leave something to be desired.  It’s generic and no I don’t think that whole animated women have to pretty debacle is responsible for it.  Sure Disney has a distinct style of the large eyes and the hour glass figure, but even the 90s movies managed to keep the female characters distinct.  Megara and Ariel have the same big eye hour glass design style but I don’t think anyone mixes them up.  Also there is a serious lack of diversity in this cast.  Yes I can see why Elsa and Anna are white.  Disney markets its stuff to white middle class America and being sisters it make sense that they would look alike, but seriously apart from maybe one person in the background and the, I’m assuming, Spanish leader everyone was Caucasian.  You have all these other kingdoms coming in for the coronation and you couldn’t swap out the colour palette for anyone?  And furthermore it obvious that Elsa can be queen of Arendelle as the next in line after her father and no one bats an eye, so why is every other leader a man?       

Needless to say the film isn’t perfect.  Lack of diversity and of side female characters can certainly count negatively towards it, and so can the lack of distinctive character design.  I like about half the songs and the other half I could do without.  Still the songs I did like were memorable.  The relationship between Elsa and Anna was really good and their devotion being the keystone in the finale confrontation was really great.  The side characters were fun, the environment looked amazing, and the story worked for me.  Despite its flaws I like really liked this film and I would recommend going to see it.

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